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Why is Noam Chomsky so overrated? by Jay Knott (04/25/11)       ⇌ (Irony)       

Counterpunch publishes great articles, like the one I commented on here on April 23rd. It also publishes pieces of hack-work so predictable they could have been generated by a computer program, such as this by Noam Chomsky:


How does he get away with it? How come he still draws overflow crowds of people prepared to pay more than $10 to hear him speak?

I suspect it's because he gives a certain type of American a warm fuzzy feeling. There is something morally satisfying in attacking the crimes of one's own culture, especially if it is white, successful, and speaks English. Worse, it is so easy to refute his arguments, one can get complacent - "I've just refuted a genius, a guy who nearly got the Nobel Prize, the leader of the American left!". But that complacency is unjustified, because Chomsky doesn't apply the genius he used in linguistics to politics.

Chomsky is right - America has committed, and continues to commit, numerous crimes. It's the most powerful country which has ever existed. A more scientific approach would be to ask in what ways it is not as imperialist as it might be. At one time, Great Britain occupied a quarter of the world. The USA occupies nowhere near this proportion. When it attacks another country, we rightly condemn it. But we should ask, why does it attack some countries and refrain from attacking many more? If imperialism consists of looting resources such as oil, why has the USA left most oil-producers unmolested?

In his zeal to diss his host culture, Chomsky misses several instances where his hypothesis could be challenged; and he has no excuse, since he understands the scientific concept of falsifiability as well as anyone in the world.

For example, he mentions president Eisenhower commenting that there is hatred of America in the Arab world in 1958. He fails to mention Eisenhower's move to counter that hatred two years earlier by taking an anti-imperialist stance, successfully backing Egypt's Nasser against Britain and France over the Suez canal. What influence made American hated by Muslims and Arabs? Chomsky just selects the evidence that seems to show its inherent to US capitalism.

On the domestic front, it's the same old failed recipe of backing the labor leaders and the Democrats vs. the Republicans. He draws a ludicrous analogy between the whining workers of Wisconsin and the heroes of the Arab uprisings.

"This vicious cycle could well turn out to be lethal. To see how grave the danger is, simply have a look at the new Congress in the U.S., propelled into power by business funding and propaganda. Almost all are climate deniers."

But the editor of Counterpunch, Alexander Cockburn, is also a 'climate denier' - he was the first on the left to expose 'global warming' as the greatest scientific scam in history. Is he, too, 'propelled by business funding'?

The only time Chumpsky defends America is in the back handed compliment that racism is 'probably more rampant' in Europe than in the US. He fails to add that racism is certainly less rampant in the USA than it has ever been before.

I won't lambast him for his weakness on the Israel/Palestine question, otherwise I'll be called predictable, and besides, I've comprehensively demolished his prevarications elsewhere.


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